Animal rescue charity Blue Cross has awarded a heroic dog a medal for saving her owner's life by sniffing out cancer.
The Labrador, Daisy, was trained to sniff out the deadly disease in samples by her owner, Dr. Claire Guest, since she was a puppy.
One afternoon in August 2009, Guest – a scientist and animal behaviour expert – took a break from work to take Daisy and her other two dogs for a walk. She lifted the back of the car to let them jump out; while the other two dogs went, Daisy sat still and stared at Guest.
"Then she boshed into me a couple of times, prodding my chest with her nose. It was really weird; she's not an invasive dog. But she pushed into me again. I said, 'Silly girl, go away,' and she leapt out. We went for a walk, and all the while I was thinking, 'That really hurt,'" Guest, now 50 years old, recalls.
The same evening, Guest felt there was a lump in the same spot on her chest where daisy had pushed her. She consulted a doctor who confirmed the cyst in her left breast. It was in the exact spot where Daisy had hinted. A mammogram and core biopsy revealed Guest had breast cancer.
The surgeon told Guest that she was extremely lucky to have had her cancer diagnosed this early because her cancer was very deep and by the time she would have realized anything, it would have been too late, The Telegraph reports.
Following the diagnosis, Guest underwent a lumpectomy and got her lymph nodes removed. She also had five weeks of radiotherapy after which she was declared cancer-free.
"All I could think was, what a difference Daisy has made. I might have had to have aggressive chemotherapy. I might not have survived. That's what made me decide: right, we've got to discover what's going on," said Guest.
Daily Mail reports that Guest was the first person in whom Daisy sniffed out the disease. After that, she has found cancer in as many as 551 patients and her accuracy rate is a remarkable 93 percent.
Guest, who is the chief executive of Charity Medical Detection Dogs, now helps train a team of 12 dogs at the head office of the charity. She is also a senior consultant for United Kingdom's first ever trials in which dogs help detect cancer, Mirror reports.